A week in Japan tech
- SingTel signs distribution agreement with Toyota Digital Cruise, the information communication services unit of Toyota Motor, to market and sell SingTel's data and voice services in the Japanese market. SingTel also hopes to sell its voice, data and Internet-related services into 3,000 Toyota-related companies outside Japan.
- Japan Telecom to accelerate the reorganization of its affiliated group firms. Japan Telecom will merge two subsidiaries that sell fixed-line communications services, and it will sell a company that handles installation. The moves are seen as preparation for the sale of fixed-line communications subsidiary Japan Telecom, so the group can refocus its resources on mobile phone unit J-Phone.
- NTT West and NTT East to lower usage fees for fiber-optic communications services for the home. NTT West will offer to customers who sign up in the March-April period a limited period discount of Y3,000 on basic monthly fees that now range from Y3,000 to Y9,000. NTT East is considering a standing reduction of roughly Y1,000 on its basic monthly fee of Y5,800.
- KDDI and Japan Telecom opposed to NTT entry into data communications business, which is expected to spur competition with new telecommunications firms as well as with NTT group firms. NTT East Corp. and NTT West Corp. announced Thursday that next month they plan to separately start data communications services to corporate clients and video distribution services to individuals.
- DoCoMo's attempts to spread mobile multimedia services to other countries progressing slower than it expected. Keiji Tachikawa, president and chief executive of DoCoMo, said in an interview at a trade show in Cannes that he is disappointed with the speed at which consumers are signing up for i-mode services in Europe.
Mobile / Wireless
- NTT DoCoMo defends high-speed wireless network, saying better handsets, wider coverage and services like video calling ensured the service would rebound from a disappointing first year. It also said its plan to spend billions of yen helping skeptical manufacturers meet the expense of developing 3G handsets would pay for itself by boosting subscribers, lowering costs and bringing in royalty payments.
- Yahoo Japan to conduct a 2-for-1 stock split, effective May 20. The number of shares will increase by 940,000 shares to 1.88 million shares. Shareholders as of March 31 will be eligible for the split. The Internet portal company, which is a joint venture of Yahoo! Inc. and Softbank Corp., is listed on the Jasdaq market.
- NEC, NTT Comware and Waseda University to give away Linux-based college admin software to all colleges beginning in March. Colleges will be able to use these programs without paying a licensing fee, and they will be able to modify the programs in any way they see fit. The suite includes five programs including applications for financial affairs, payroll and education affairs.
- SAP Japan to work with Mizuho Corporate Advisory on software sales. SAP Japan hopes that the advisory firm's information on corporate integrations, spinoffs and management buyout trends will lead to increased orders for integration and rebuilding of computer systems.
- NEC and Institute of Physical and Chemical Research closer to quantum computer. Researchers have coupled two solid-state qubits, the individual elements that store bits of quantum information that can process large volumes of data in parallel. In principle, a quantum computer will be able to perform in seconds the calculations for which a super computer would need billions of years.
- Apple Computer to open its first owned-and-operated Japanese store in Tokyo's Ginza district this autumn in a bid to boost sales. The move is part of an effort to eliminate the strong perception among PC users in Japan that Apple's products are hard to operate and intended for computer professionals and geeks. Japan will be the first country outside the U.S. in which Apple has its own showrooms.
- Matsushita Electric Industrial swings to a profit of ¥20.9 billion yen ($176 million) for its fiscal third quarter on strong sales of DVD recorders and plasma-display television sets. The Japanese company posted a ¥172 billion loss in the same quarter the previous year, sharing the dismal fate of many Japanese makers battered by the global electronics slump and competition from less expensive Asian rivals.
- Japanese companies increasingly outsource software development work instead of handling it themselves. Dalian Haihui Technology, a large Chinese software developer based in Liaoning Province, has established a Japanese unit so that it can respond quickly to the needs of clients in Japan and build up its business.
- Elpida Memory to receive about 20 billion yen in funding from Intel through a placement of convertible bonds. Elpida is a 50-50 JV launched by Hitachi and NEC and the only DRAM maker in Japa. Elpida plans to strengthen development and sales of high-value-added DRAMs for network appliances and digital audiovisual devices in the future.
A week in Korea tech
- Morning365, a major online bookseller, seeking to attract new sources of revenue, a move that might lead to mergers with competitors amid mounting expectations for consolidation in the industry. Local media earlier reported that the company is eyeing another take-over target in Korea's fast-growing, online bookselling market.
Media, Entertainment and Gaming
- Cowon Systems' flagship MP3 player "iAUDIO CW200" gaining popularity in the U.S. The company, which plans to get listed on the tech-heavy Kosdaq stock market in May, said its U.S. subsidiary, JetAudio Inc., is now receiving rave reviews from American consumers and experts. CW200 has maintained its No. 1 position in the customer review section of Amazon.com.
- Gaming industry forecast to grow 21 percent to W4 trillion this year, the Korea Game Development & Promotion Institute said. Softmax and Actoz Soft launched new online games in December, and the number of concurrent users surpassed 40,000 within the first week. HanGame and NetMarble have attracted up to 200,000 concurrent users.
- Youngjin.com, a Kosdaq-listed IT publishing house, diversifying its portfolio in a bid to expand its presence into other mainstream genres and prop up its growth-oriented sales targets. The company's decision to shed its IT-oriented image comes after a slowdown in sales of IT manuals and guidebooks in recent months. Youngjin.com officials said the IT book market is maturing fast.
- Piolink targets traffic balancers in the aftermath of worldwide Internet disruptions on January 25. The network equipment maker specializes in L4 (Layer 4) switches for enterprise customers. Piolink is one of the major players in the field dedicated to managing Web and network traffic. The company is teaming up with major network integration and systems integration firms in order to retain customers.
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